The 7 Most Effective Customer Support Agents

Jackie Whiting
January 28, 2021
If you’re reading this and already work in customer support, you understand one of today’s most painful truths: people are not patient creatures. But maybe it’s not completely our fault. Maybe we’re just overwhelmed with choices to make.

If you’re reading this and already work in customer support, you understand one of today’s most painful truths: people are not patient creatures. But maybe it’s not completely our fault. Maybe we’re just overwhelmed with choices to make.

As the VP of service for a large cable operator described to the Harvard Business Review, “Today’s customers are unbelievably impatient. As soon as we ask how we can help them, they jump down our throats. They’re frustrated because of the amount of time they’ve had to invest on their own, frustrated by the amount of conflicting information they find on the internet, and frustrated by the thought of having to deal with a service rep. They’re not calling us because they want to; they’re calling us because they have no other choice.” 

Combine our collective impatience with the increasing costs of live-service interactions and you quickly appreciate that every moment counts when it comes to delivering stand-out service. So in the face of today’s challenges, who among us is the best equipped to handle even the most impatient customers? Is it the more assertive agent or the empathetic one? Do you know which category you fall into and which qualities are worth emulating? 

Read on to discover the seven most effective customer support agents and learn which type suits you best. 

The Techie 

If you’re naturally technical in the way you analyse problems and communicate, you might be the techie agent. You pride yourself on understanding the way your service works below its surface level. You believe that intimately understanding what makes your workflow automations tick makes you the strongest agent you can be and best equips you to never find yourself tripped up by a seemingly impossible question. 

It’s likely other team members come to you when they hit a wall trying to explain the in’s and out’s of omnichannel support. And when you aren’t solving complicated tech tasks for customers you’re handling computer glitches and other internal challenges for your colleagues.  

What’s the techie’s main vulnerability? It can be easy for techies like you to get lost in analysis and information processing rather than on actual conversations with real people. Make sure you balance your proficiency in your helpdesk’s latest feature release with your empathy for a customer’s frustrations. 

The Gorgias feature techies love the most? Automating work with rules! There are plenty of repetitive tasks that disappear when you leverage rules to automate and depending on how big your support team is and how tickets are handled, there are several standard ways to approach this. Techies love this feature as it can be completely customized to meet your team's needs and it’s an opportunity for them to show off the benefits of mastering seemingly technical features. 

The Customer Whisperer 

As the customer whisperer you’re all too familiar with context-shy customers who come to you with a seemingly mysterious problem (typically one also fueled with obvious frustration and impatience). But you take pride in quickly untangling the web of confusion and can expertly separate emotions from the task at hand. You’re not afraid to go out on a limb and offer suggestions and helpful prompts to get the customer talking.

Netflix’s support team isn’t afraid to go out on a limb to help the customer explain their problem

It doesn’t hurt that you not only know the right techniques to extract the actionable items from a vague customer, but you know how to leave them feeling heard - something they’ll remember the next time they reach out. 

The downside to serving such a role? You might find yourself moving through tickets at a slower-than-ideal pace as you work through a customer’s unexplained challenge. 

At Gorgias, the customer whisperer types really leverage the sidebar for its ability to provide those helpful context clues when dealing with tricky customer questions. And how does the sidebar work? Once a team’s preferred ecommerce platform is connected, the sidebar can be customised to display relevant information from any of their integrated partners (e.g. yotpo, recart, kayvio, etc). The end result is a full customer picture with all the context in one place that appears alongside customer queries, ultimately helping support agents provide help faster. 

Learn more about the perks of the sidebar by reading this article. 

The Taskmaster

The taskmaster loves to fly through support tickets at a rate not unlike Superman. You know this is you if you’re the first to volunteer when it comes to closing up any backend tasks and tickets that have gone untouched by other agents. You’re also able to get through so many tasks in a day because you’re highly organised, whether it’s because of the endless resources bookmarked in your browser or your high-powered memory and resourcefulness - you know how to close a task like nobody’s business. 

It’s efficiency at the level you possess that can keep customers coming back for more. But just like everyone, a taskmaster isn’t perfect. The fixation on a list of completed tasks can sometimes create blindspots in the rest of your role and you might be too trigger happy with the auto-reply sounding responses during conversations. Don’t forget your humanity! 

Taskmasters at Gorgias love using macros to get the job done. If you aren’t already familiar with them, macros are premade responses you can use to respond to your customers faster. Creating a lot of macros with customer variables enables taskmasters to answer an even higher volume of questions, but with that important human touch. If you’re already using Gorgias, setting up macros is easy! Learn how to do it here. 

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The Innovator

While we all know that no business is perfect (well, almost no business), the innovator believes in the endless pursuit of perfection. They believe there are always opportunities to improve the product, the way the team functions, and even the third-party management platforms being used. 

Innovators aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo in favour of finding the new, more efficient way to serve customers and get the job done. They use their insight into the perspective of users to spot bugs, highlight needlessly complicated workflows and get the job done not just faster, but better. Over time, as an innovator, you might even find that you’ve developed the ability to predict how your customers will be impacted by new product changes, and you use this instinct to help your company make better decisions in the interest of your customers.

If you’re an innovator just remember that not everything needs to be revolutionised for the sake of it. Sometimes the saying “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” really is valid.

At Gorgias, we’re all about innovation. It’s why we’ve built a seamless way to connect social media channels to your HelpDesk. For example, using our Facebook integration, you can automatically create tickets when customers post on your Facebook page or send you a message via Messenger which allows your agents to manage Facebook inquiries directly from your HelpDesk. Read more about setting up social integrations here.

The Competitor

Do you live for the hustle? Are you thirsty for that sweet commission? Did you hog the ball at recess as a kid? Just kidding on that last one! While it’s true that competitors want to dominate the sales board -- or if upselling isn’t a part of your support role, the case management board -- they’re also respected for their silver tongued eloquence when it comes to answering customer queries. 

Competitors use their desire to impress managers to motivate them to surpass the volumes of their team members. They are assertive and independent and typically work with a one-(wo)man-island approach. 

Such independence of course can isolate them from their colleagues or lead to temporary stalls when they hit a problem they can’t solve...and they find themselves too stubborn to ask for help. If you have a naturally competitive streak it’s okay to embrace it! Just remember the old adage, “there’s no ‘i’ in team!”

Competitors using Gorgias make integrating their full ecommerce stack a priority. Whether it’s leveraging a suite of business apps to manage all conversations in one place or displaying order information that can also be edited in their HelpDesk, these support agents know how to satisfy customers in as few steps as possible. Check out all the integration possibilities to keep your customer support competitive by clicking here. 

The People Pleaser

The people pleasers among us will probably have seen themselves in the customer whisper role. So what’s the difference? People pleasers are the kind of agents that are eager to satisfy customers at almost any cost. That’s not to say they’re without a brain or backbone, quite the opposite actually! Instead, people pleasers are master diffusers when it comes to even the most disappointed customers. They quickly read the room and can find ways to regain trust and transform unhappy customers into brand advocates. 

Caption: This wellness brand goes out of its way to both acknowledge a positive review and answer a question that wasn’t addressed directly to them 

People pleasers let customers drive the conversation and can be quick to offer incentives like discounts or promotions in order to reach a resolution. While this type of agent might not always have all the answers, you can rely on them to nurture a positive relationship with customers. 

If this is you, or you’re managing a people pleaser, just make sure to establish clear guidelines for distributing giveaways otherwise you may quickly find you’ve got a budget that can’t be balanced. 

People pleasers would benefit from setting up a sentiment and intent detection rule to identify the customers that require more urgent attention. By employing this rule, Gorgias automatically analyses the interaction’s tone and offers a judgement of the customer’s sentiment! Is the customer angry, in a rush or simply grateful for the service? Read how you can figure all of that in a single glance using customer sentiments through rules.

The Coach

Coaches are sort of the class presidents of a customer support team. They possess the leadership skills it takes to balance the personalities, strengths and weaknesses of their colleagues and also those of the customers they serve. This type of agent is assertive, enjoys taking control and derives satisfaction out of steering calls and chats. They direct the interaction with a customer and tend to decide in advance how the conversation will play out. Coaches have a script prepared but aren’t afraid to deviate when the situation calls for it. 

They also understand that sometimes a customer doesn’t need help with a particular problem, they just need some encouragement to get started or to find a new value from the service. As a coach, you know how to not only help your customers but motivate them. 

Is there a downside to playing the role of the coach? Maybe one. Customers might appreciate your direction but stay vigilant and identify that their time is also money and as a result, not everyone wants a problem to be a “teaching moment”. Get the problem solved first and foremost, also within your own team. 

Coaches will find that they can benefit from leveraging both the statistics and revenue statistics features to check on their team’s productivity and efficiency. If your team is utilizing tags and macros, it's a great way to get a holistic view of what issues your support is facing and to assess trends. The results of such investigations can also help them address their own inefficiencies, ultimately working faster and smarter for the sake of the team.

No matter which agent you identify as remember this one thing:

Today’s clients have near endless options for who they shop with. Embracing the best qualities of these seven agent types could make the difference for your company. After all, to gain and retain customers you have to offer something that keeps them loyal...and the difference could be you! 

And before you go, here’s some advice on how you can stand out from your competitors by embracing your inner support guru. In this article, we describe the five most essential customer service skills every support agent needs in their professional toolbox to not just meet, but exceed their targets.

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